Meeting Growing Demand for Bus Service

In King County, we have seen an 8 percent increase in bus riders over the past nine years and gained about 700,000 rides between 2016 and 2017 alone.

Recent changes to the Seattle Transportation Benefit District – proposed by Mayor Durkan and approved by the Seattle City Council – are not only putting free ORCA cards in the hands of Seattle public high school students, but have also allowed for investments in more routes across the city.

Working with our partners we’re taking two steps to meet demand for bus service: Increase Metro services on 12 routes beginning this Fall, and making improvements to 3rd Avenue to make it easier for buses to move through downtown.

More Metro Bus Service Beginning This Fall

We must continue our strong investments in King County Metro bus service. Since 2015, the City of Seattle has purchased transit service through the voter-approved Seattle Transportation Benefit District.

This September, the City will pay for 20,000 hours of increased Metro service on 12 routes, including the RapidRide E Line that connects North Seattle neighborhoods to downtown Seattle. In addition, there will be improvements for Routes 41 and 70 to 10-minute service, adding peak period capacity on Routes 8, 17, 18, 40, 56, and RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, and adding late evening trips on Routes 7 and 106. In total, this will add more than 50 weekday trips to some of the busiest routes in Metro’s system, providing capacity for more than 4,000 additional weekday boardings.

Increasing Efficiency on 3rd Avenue: Extended Bus-Only Hours, More ORCA Readers and All-Door Boarding, and Adding New Bus Stops

Seattle is also investing more in a critical downtown transportation corridor: 3rd Avenue. How important is 3rd Avenue? Each day, it carries over 2,500 buses move more than 100,000 people. That’s why we’re working hand-in-hand with King County Metro to ensure its working as efficiently as possible to move more people in our growing city. To do that, we are:

  • Extending bus-only hours on 3rd Avenue
  • Installing ORCA readers at all stops along 3rd Avenue
  • Adding and adjusting stops to improve traffic flow

Cyclists will still be invited to use the 3rd Avenue bus corridor at all times.

To learn more about the changes coming to 3rd Avenue, click here.

These investments reflect Mayor Jenny Durkan’s commitment to increasing transit accessibility. In addition to being one of the most heavily-used lines in Seattle, the areas served by the the RapidRide E Line connects Shoreline, North Seattle, and downtown Seattle along Aurora Avenue and serves customers with diverse socio-economic backgrounds.

As Seattle grows, we must continually be ready to make improvements both to our level of service and our transit infrastructure. Just this year, Seattle has ranked as one of the top 10 transit cities in the United States – and thanks to these investments and exciting new initiatives like free ORCA for Seattle public high schoolers, we can continue to make progress together.